How to Start An Event Planning Business in 2020 - Only Successful Events

How to Start An Event Planning Business in 2020

Your search for how to start an event planning business brought you here... and it's a good thing! The day you launch your own event planning business will likely be one of the most exciting and memorable days of your career. But failure to do the proper planning could doom your business before you celebrate your first anniversary.

Before you officially kick off your event planning company, there are some important steps you need to take to boost your chances of success. 

Below is a step by step guide on how to start an event planning business in 2020. 

Step 1:

Determine Your Niche

The path to successful event planning begins by defining your area of expertise. At first, it is natural to want to promote yourself as a planner who will handle any type of event. After all, you do not want to turn down any opportunities for business. But that strategy can be counterproductive.

It is important to remember how people will find you. Most prospects will start their search for an event planner online. And most will look for a specialist in the type of event they are hosting. For instance, rather than simply searching online for, "Event Planner", they are likely to search for "Wedding Planner" or "Fundraising Planner."

On you journey on discovering how to start an event planning business.  It's important to "niche down"!

Consequently, deciding on a specific area (niche) to focus on was one of the most difficult lessons I had to learn!  I was so afraid to "pigeon hole" my event planning company. I thought I would lose out on other opportunities if I did so.  But, what I soon realized that I looked like a jack of all trades, expert of nothing to my prospective clients.

Once I decided on a niche, my business took off!

Here are some specific examples of some of the top types of event planners:

  • Wedding Planner
  • Business Conference / Meeting Planner
  • Non-Profit / Fundraising Event Planner
  • Trade Show Planner
  • Campaign Event planner
  • Exhibition Planner
  • Social Event Planner
  • Step 2:

    Register Your Business

    "For most small businesses, registering your business is as simple as registering your business name with state and local governments...If you conduct business as yourself using your legal name, you won't need to register anywhere. But remember, if you don't register your business, you could miss out on personal liability protection, legal benefits, and tax benefits." - U.S. Small Business Administration

    Once you have decided what type of event planning business you are launching, you need to register your business. Legal Zoom's Brette Sember, J.D., outlines three basic options for registering your business:

    • Option 1File a DBA or "Doing Business As" with your state or county clerk's office. You will need to be prepared to pay a small fee and make sure there is not another business using the same name.  If you need some inspiration for a on how to ​create a "catchy" event planning business name, you can get some great tips here.
    • Option 2Create an LLC or corporation by registering your business name with your state. One of the key benefits of an LLC is pass-through taxes. This means that you can report profits and losses on your individual tax return instead of filing a corporate tax return.
    • Option 3: Register a trademark. You can register with your state and/or the federal government. Registering a trademark offers the strongest degree of protection for your business name. 

    Step 3: 

    Secure Funding

    Launching an event planning business requires time and money. You will need to have funds available to pay for your website, marketing costs, and other materials to operate your organization. If you already have a comfortable amount of cash allocated to launch your business, then you are ahead of the majority of startup owners.

    Otherwise, you can secure funding by exploring one of the sources below:

    • Your local small business administration (SBA): Your local SBA might be able to match you with approved lenders who meet your needs.
    • Angel investors: Consider contacting the Angel Capital Association (ACA) for funds. The ACA is comprised of over 14,000 potential investors.
    • Your own money: Also known as bootstrapping, this method involves using your own finances to fund your event planning business.
    • Personal lending companies: Prosper and Lending Club are two examples of personal lenders, or peer to peer lending companies.
    • Family and friends: Many people turn to family and friends for capital to fund their business. 

    When figuring out how to start an event planning business and funding your company you may have to get creative!

    Blue overlay on an image of calculator, piggy bank and laptop. White text that reads Event Budget Template

    Step 4: 

    Obtain Your Insurance

    Once your registration and funding are squared away, you will need to secure event planning insurance. The type of coverage you need will depend on your event planning niche and scope of services.

    Coverage is typically available in several different categories including the following:

    • Property insurance to cover damage to your office, event planning inventory, or other physical property.
    • General liability insurance to protect you against third party injury claims. 
    • Business income insurance to cover revenue lost due to a natural disaster or fire.
    • Professional liability insurance to help protect you if a client sues you because they suffered harm as a result of your event planning.
    • Event cancellation insurance to help you recover money spent on deposits when an event is canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.

    Many event planners opt for an event planning insurance package that provides comprehensive coverage of everything they need in a single neat package. With an all-inclusive insurance package, you can rest assured that you are covered even when you plan an event outside your normal scope of service. Furthermore, it is really important to work with an agent and an attorney that is very familiar with the event industry.  

    We cannot stress enough, the importance of making sure your experts already have experience on how to start an event planning business in 2020!

    Step 5:

    Create a Stellar Website

    Next, you'll need a website. Your website will be the online face of your event planning business. So it is important to create a fantastic website that will captivate prospective clients. From the moment they land on your site, visitors should want to learn more about your event planning services and how you can deliver a memorable experience.

    When designing your website, make sure that it features the following qualities:

    • A clear identity: Visitors should immediately be able to tell that you are an event planner. Be careful not to overuse text and ads.
    • Contact details: Make sure visitors have an easy way of reaching you. A "Contact Us" page or link should be highly visible to visitors.
    • A great domain name: Use care when choosing a domain name. In general, it is better to avoid hyphens or .net domain names.
    • Easy to navigate: Your site should be well organized with clearly divided categories pertaining to the types of events you handle. 
    • Responsive: Your pages should take no more than two seconds to load, or you will run the risk of people abandoning your site.
    • Secure: Installing an SSL certificate and using security software are two ways to help keep your website secure.
    woman in blue shirt helping a woman in yellow shirt learn how to start an event planning business

    Unless you have a strong working knowledge of marketing or web design, it is a good idea to hire a specialist to create your website. While large web design agencies can charge a pretty penny for this service, you can hire an experienced freelancer to design your website for $1,000 to $3,000.

    Be sure to check your web designer's references and request a written summary of the services included with your web design contract.

    Step 6:

    Build Your Social Media Presence

    Social media continues to transform the event planning landscape90% of businesses in the U.S. using social media to promote products, services, and events. And with Forrester Research finding that events account for 24% of the B2B marketing budget, you can hardly afford not to have a strong presence on social media. 

    But there is more to building a social media presence than simply creating accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook. In fact, you could end up doing more harm than good to your budding business if you simply create social media accounts and leave them alone.

    To optimize your presence on social media, you need to create a social media strategy and resolve to stick to it. Forbes contributor Gerri Detweiler outlines some simple ways for small businesses to use social media to bolster their success:

    BEST Event Social Media Plan To Boost Attendance

    Having a social media plan when promoting an event is an integral part of the event planning process. Whatever the attendance goal of your conference, workshop, retreat or trade show, it's nearly impossible to reach without a smart marketing effort.

    • Be unique in the way that you showcase your event planning business on social media.
    • Show appreciation to event planning mentors, clients, and vendors who have helped your business gain traction.
    • Focus on the platform that your clients tend to utilize the most. This may require a bit of initial research.
    • Create a calendar to help people visualize your event schedule and social media activities.
    • Delegate oversight of your social media sites if you are strapped for time. Responsiveness is important.  

    Step 7: 

    Consider Initial Introductory Pricing

    Offering special introductory pricing is a useful strategy that can help you secure new business and land that first big-name client. However, this step should be followed with caution to avoid eroding all of your profit or leaving you upside down from a revenue standpoint.

    Here are some instances in which special introductory pricing is a wise move:

    • The client receiving the discount is a high profile influencer who is willing to provide testimonials or serve as a reference for you
    • You are able to secure a venue or materials at a reduced rate to mitigate any substantial profit loss
    • The event is a regularly occurring event and the client has indicated you have a good chance of planning all subsequent events

    If you decide to advertise introductory pricing, remember to clearly outline any restrictions related to event timing or scope. Otherwise you could end up with confused and disappointed prospects.

    Step 8: 

    Schedule a "Soft Opening"

    "The biggest mistake that new entrepreneurs make is they start off with a big grand opening celebration right away. Then they find out that the computer system still has some bugs, they did not hire enough staff and the phone system is not working properly. That is why every business should have a soft opening at least 30 days prior to the grand opening." - Diane Seltzer, Small Business Marketing Tools

    Maybe, you feel like you are ready to officially kick off your business. But unless you have taken time to work out any glitches, your first month as a new event planner could be a stressful one. A great way to prevent this from happening is to have a soft opening approximately 30 days before your "official" grand opening.

    Finally, here are some last minute items to test and cover during this 30-day window:

    • Conduct a final website audit to ensure that your web pages are responsive and easy to navigate.
    • Test your phone and fax numbers from a variety of locations to ensure that prospective customers can access your business.
    • Make sure your voice mail is working so customers can easily leave a message during off hours

    Step 9:

    Make Your First "Official Day" a Thursday or Friday

    If you have followed the steps above, your first official day as a registered event planner should be a positive one. But even with all the planning in the world, you may encounter hiccups. And if you happen to experience any major glitches, you will need time to resolve them.

    For this reason alone, it is a good idea to make your first official day of work a Thursday or Friday. This will give you the entire weekend to make any adjustments. By the time Monday rolls around, you will have the first couple of days of work behind you. And you will be better prepared to make your first full week as an event planner a productive one. 

    What is the secret to launching a successful event planning business?

    As outlined above, there are many factors to consider when starting an event planning business. But the single best way to start your business off on the right foot is to apply to join the next "90 Day Event Business Acceleration Program."

    By joining a business accelerator program, you will receive the support that you need to launch your business. For example, you will be exposed to successful mentors, potential investors, and industry leaders who can provide valuable guidance as you move through the steps above. 

    "When matched with a comparable group of companies that didn't participate in accelerator programs, those that graduated from top programs saw an acceleration in reaching key milestones, such as time to raising venture capital, exit by acquisition, and gaining customer traction." - Ian Hathaway, Harvard Business Review 

    There are many other benefits of participating in a business acceleration program. Research shows that participating in an acceleration program may increase your ability to secure funding or to be acquired in the future. Additionally, your event planning business may have a greater impact on your community at large.

    To learn more about the event planning industry and how you can start an event planning business, contact us at Only Successful Events LLC. Founded by award-winning event producer April Iannazzone, Only Successful Events LLC specializes offers courses and certifications in event planning. We look forward to helping you become a star in the event planning industry! 


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